Earlier this year, when I was dusting my room, I came across an old jewelry box on my top shelf. It contained something very special. I smiled as my fingers brushed against the smooth wooden finish. I gingerly took the box from the shelf and climbed down from my perch. I curled up on the floor with it in my lap. My fingers traced the edges of the box, careful not to touch the latch – I knew I couldn’t afford to open it. I closed my eyes and cherished fond memories from a distant summer. Without thinking, I let my thumb slide down and flip open the latch. As I lifted the lid, the aroma of aged rose petals invaded my nostrils, assaulting me. Nostalgia overwhelmed me like a kick in the stomach. I longed deeply for a thing of the past – Not the boy who gave me the roses, not the roses themselves, not the moments or the memories. None of that stood up under the shadow of what I wanted most. I wanted that ignorance. I wanted to go back to believing people could be inherently good. I wanted to go back to believing people when they told me they “wouldn’t miss it for the world.” I wanted to go back to believing cops were always the good guys, that racism was a thing of the past, and friends never lied to each other. Most of all, I wanted to go back to being able to believe in people when they didn’t believe in themselves. Quiet tears slid gently down my face, splattering the wooden box. I took a ragged breath, shut the box and sat on the floor in silence.
Time seemed to freeze as I escaped into a world of thoughts and memories. I glanced at my alarm clock; the obnoxious red numbers reminded me that I had to get back to cleaning. I brushed my thumb against the box, gently caressing the circles of salt that my tears left behind. With a sigh, I heaved myself off the floor and placed the box back on the shelf – not to be touched for months.
“Wait, do you still have the box???”
I nodded excitedly and bounced to my feet. I nimbly leapt onto the bed and snatched the box from the shelf – it was dusty. Our faces were both plastered with anticipating smiles. He hovered over my shoulder as I brushed the dust away.
“Sit, sit!” I demanded and folded myself onto the floor, motioning towards the chair in front of me. He quickly sat down and prompted me to open the box. In one fluid movement, I opened the box and turned it to face him. We inhaled deeply and grinned at each other as the familiar aroma filled the room.
“I remember this one,” he gently slid his finger under a delicate rose, and I nodded
“It was beautiful,” I breathed.
We sat there fingering through the pile of roses and stray rose petals. Quiet chuckles mixed with nostalgic sighs as we revisited old memories. He marveled over the beauty of the contents in the box, and I closed my eyes, cherishing the moment. This time, nostalgia wrapped me up – it wasn’t an assault, it wasn’t a sick joke or a painful reminder of imagined memories, it wasn’t a taunt of something I would never have again – It was an assurance, a reminder of good times, a promise of hope…it was healing.
As I closed the box, I closed another chapter in my life – a time when I was in limbo, longing for the past and waiting for the future, refusing to let go. Together we closed the door of immaturity, we boldly stepped into the world of responsibility. We used to gripe about our parents and chores – now we vent about tough life decisions and doing the right thing even when it’s hard. We used to chatter about our fun plans for the weekend – now we discuss job opportunities and managing our money. Thick as thieves and partners in crime – we might as well be brothers by now. No matter where life takes us, we’ll always have each other’s backs.
As I type this, there is a vase in my room filled with roses – a dozen of the most beautiful roses to grace my room. Those roses came from the same rosebush that supplied the first ones ever given to me. A smile plays at my lips as I realize they will likely be the last from that bush to enter my room. Now it’s time to say goodbye to the old, and hello to the new. It is time to step out of adolescence and into adulthood. Nostalgia will always be there to remind me of the summer of roses – a sweet memory, a time that is long gone – sometimes so distant that I think it might have just been a childhood fantasy; but no, it was real. I was there. I have proof.